DONNY VAN DE BEEK looks set to be given a chance to impress Erik ten Hag in Manchester United’s friendly against Aston Villa.
The Red Devils are looking to make it four wins out of four this pre-season after triumphs over Liverpool, Melbourne Victory and Crystal Palace.
However, Ten Hag has a number of potential absentees to contend with.
Scott McTominay and Raphael Varane are injury concerns after picking up knocks in recent days.
Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof were spotted training together on Thursday, suggesting they will start the match against Steven Gerrard’s side.
And Van de Beek could be deployed in midfield under his old Ajax boss Ten Hag.
The Dutch midfielder, 25, had been frozen out under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick following his £35million transfer in 2020 – and was even loaned to Everton earlier this year.
Van de Beek hasn’t started any of United’s pre-season matches this summer, with Fred and McTominay preferred.
But with the Scottish star potentially ruled out, the 19-cap Holland international could start in a deeper role alongside the Brazilian in midfield.
Earlier this week, Van de Beek admitted he must earn his spot in the United XI despite helping lead Ten Hag’s Ajax to within minutes of the 2019 Champions League final.
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The midfielder said: “Everyone was saying that because I worked with him at Ajax [I would be playing].
“But, in the end, you have to play good from yourself and it doesn’t matter who is the coach.
“You have to find your role in the team and, of course, he knows me as a player, but that means nothing. I have to show it for myself.”
Bruno Fernandes is expected to start in a No10 role just ahead of Fred and Van de Beek, with Zidane Iqbal also pushing for a start, despite Ten Hag’s X-rated rant at the youngster on Thursday.
Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial look almost certain to continue their impressive pre-season in attack, especially with Cristiano Ronaldo still absent and looking to force a move away from the Old Trafford giants.
In goal, David de Gea should keep Tom Heaton out of the team, with Diogo Dalot and Tyrrell Malacia expected to start ahead of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw.
Maguire and Lindelof are tipped to start, with Eric Bailly and Will Fish – who was sent-off for a rugby tackle against Palace – providing back-up should Varane fail to recover in time.